Industry execs ‘vigorously’ deny wrongdoing as Campbell case reaches court

This article references allegations of sexual harassment. If you or someone you care about needs support, please contact 1800 RESPECT at 1800 737 732. In an emergency, call 000.

Several accusations by Ella Campbell against her former employer, including an alleged sexual assault by former Born & Raised managing director Chris Laws has reached the Federal Court of Australia.

In court documents filed to the Fair Work Division of the Federal Court on 28 September, and seen by The Australian, Campbell alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Laws while working under him at the agency Born & Raised.

The documents state she also alleged former CEO of the agency, Chris Harris would “regularly invite her and other female colleagues to his office to consume large amounts of alcohol and cocaine, typically each Thursday or Friday, and then bullied her when she began to reject the invitations,” as well as alleging she was the subject of bullying from Harris throughout her time at the agency.

Both Laws and Harris strenuously deny the allegations. Mumbrella at this time is only reporting on the allegations made by Campbell filed in court documents and is not suggesting Laws has committed the harassment and illegal activities complained of by Campbell. Mumbrella is not suggesting that any form of harassment or illegal activity was committed by Harris. The truth of any allegations against Laws and / or Harris will only be known if the matter proceeds and a determination is made.

After the initial post and subsequent coverage earlier this year, Laws stood down from his role at independent agency Enigma following the allegations of sexual misconduct. While an Enigma spokesperson told Mumbrella at the time that the alleged events occurred before Laws was an employee at Enigma, they took place at Born & Raised, which was purchased by Enigma in 2020.

Further details supplied in the court notes allege sexual assault by Laws at the company office while under the influence of cocaine and alcohol, which left Campbell fearing for her job, with another event alleging details of a “joint harassment” by Laws and an unnamed client CEO, which later resulted in the unnamed CEO raping her in a female toilet cubicle in an intoxicated state, according to Campbell in the court documents. She also alleges that Laws witnessed the sexual assault taking place, and made no effort to stop it.

Campbell is seeking compensation and an apology from both Laws and Harris. No criminal charges have been laid upon either, and both strenuously deny any of the events or wrongdoing.

A statement provided to The Australian by Harris said: “Ella Campbell left Born & Raised on good terms. At no time was I made aware of her allegations of assault by others, by her or anyone else, until many years later. To the extent that she now makes alle­gations of bullying about me, those allegations are strenuously denied and will be defended.”

Laws also “vigorously, vigorously” denies all of the allegations. “(I want the) courts to be able to prove the outcomes rather than it being placed in the media and the accusations becoming the nature of what people believe. But unfortunately, that’s the world we live in,” he said.

In a statement provided today by AMC Media, Campbell is quoted as saying: “I was raped and sexually assaulted while working at Born & Raised, Australia. I was also subjected to continual sexual harassment, and bullying, by my superiors. My 35 page Statement of Claim, now before the Court, details what happened to me, and who was responsible. I have reported my rapes, and sexual assaults to the police, and am fully cooperating with the police investigation, which I understand is ongoing.

“I have filed legal action in the Federal Court against Christopher Douglas Laws and Christopher Charles Harris (both formerly of Born & Raised, Australia) as a result of what happened to me when I was employed at Born & Raised, Australia.

“This is a big step for me, as I have removed myself from public forums recently to find the space needed to think long and hard before deciding to proceed with this legal action. It is about time these behaviours, as fully detailed in my Statement of Claim, are ventilated, so that those working in the Australian Creative Industry, and the public, can have real insight into how too many women are treated by some men in that industry. I am hoping this will be a wakeup call for the entire industry, particularly those who lead and control it.”

Campbell was employed as group new business director of Born & Raised Creative Group from January 2018 to January 2019, according to AMC Media.

The Statement of Claim has been filed at the Federal Court Registry, with the file number: NSD835/2022.

As this legal filing is a civil matter, Campbell is suing on several grounds including:

1) Breaches of several provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) for the adverse action committed in contravention of general protection provisions pertaining to coercion, sex discrimination and age discrimination and also for the contravention of
provisions pertaining to maximum weekly hours and the National Employment Standards;

2) Misleading and deceptive conduct in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law;

3) Inducing breach of Campbell’s right to a safe and non-sexually hostile work environment.

Campbell is being represented by Harmers Workplace Lawyers.

Read more in The Australian.


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